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Food removal, some more updates and the perils of Winston

This week I went back to see Trevor Ellis and to see his wife Anne who I have not seen for over 18 years. It makes a nice change to be able to go over old times and to talk for hours all about dogs again.

Trevor asked why I kept requesting owners to check if they are able to remove food from their dogs. For us both it was never an issue as we just worked and lived that way. If I only had one bone with five German Shepherds, I had to be able to make them share it. We never even thought about it as a potential problem. Once though stepping into the area of dogs with behavioural problems then we learn where things can go wrong. It is only a test to make, as 60% of dogs are no problem. It is only if you find you do have a dominant dog this is where those owners could find they need some corrective training. The main problem is recognising the signs.

Many years ago, a friend of ours passed into the back of his estate car a nearly empty packet of crisps for his dog to eat. The dog ate them up and then started to rip up the packet. The owner put his harm into the back in order to remove the empty packet from the dog. Unfortunately, his dog bit him very badly and with such ferocity, he had never seen his dog this way before.

The owner had the usual advice to have the dog put to sleep but decided to find out why first. We went through the events leading to the attack and to an experience eye it was possible to see the signs that built up to this attack. The problem is that each change in the dog is so subtle that those living with the dog fail to notice the dogs gradual increase in its hierarchal state and think this is it just growing up. Any growling or putting his feet in the food or water bowl is a common sign that there are problems forming.

Fortunately, he did not have his dog put to sleep and followed some dominancy retraining successfully. There was never a similar incident again and the dog died of old age.

I received a request the other day for help with any advice regarding alternative forms of treatments for pets as one very much loved pet has a heart mummer so making surgery out of the question. If anyone has any experience of alternative remedies in Spain the UK or USA then please contact me and I will pass the information on.

On the point of alternative therapies, I have a friend who is a Reiki therapist and I have a very poorly thumb that on occasions throbs painfully. With the therapy, it does seem to make the pain go away.

Now I am always open-minded so it is possible that this works or the pain would have subsided any way. What has this to do with dogs you may be asking? Next door, we have a big guard dog that during the night sits outside and barks and howls at nothing. I have looked out and there is no one about. I even checked with Winston. One evening it started up again so my friend went outside for a while and after some initial barking there was silence. Since then the dog still barks at people passing by but not at Winston or I anymore nor does it, sit in the middle of the garden howling at nothing. I cannot help with any understanding here as it is out of my league. She says that she assured the mental emotional stabilisation of the dog and removed its fears and its worries. I will see how long it lasts.

I went to collect a gas collar this week, as the owners no longer needed it. This small dog was barking at everybody down on the street below. The owners now have a "Quiet" command and praising the dog whenever it obeyed. This has taken the normal two weeks I would expect and the dog has not become collar conscious: well done.

One thing the owners did say was the dog seemed to have changed character and was now more willing to meet people. This does happen if a dog thinks it is the only one that can defend the pack. Because it is a reluctant guarder, the dog shows a more nerves defence of the property. The other dog was so laid back it would fall over so it could never have taken on this duty. When the owners showed that they have taken over this duty then the dog could sigh relief and can become a normal dog again.

Last week I said that the answer to everything is our understanding so if we are prepared to learn to understand our dogs we can make training and living together better for all concerned. I had purchased in England Jan Fennell's new book The Practical Dog Listener and meant to read it on the plane. Unfortunately, once on the plane I fell fast to sleep so I never had the chance. I only found it in my bag the other day and notice that below the title is the following subtitle the 30-Day Path to a Lifelong Understanding of Your Dog. From this I hope you can see we are all thinking along the same lines and focusing on understanding our dogs.

Many articles ago, I said you should try dancing with your dog. It changes your body language into happiness that also affects your dog's mood. It can become a little too excited but if you practice you can find you can teach your dog to watch you and learn to move with you. Great for helping you teach your dog to walking by your side and its more fun. I know there are dog-dancing demonstrations but now I see that the behaviourist Suzanne Holding is promoting this as a keep fit exercise. Not only that she is getting a grant from the EU to spread the word on the city's estates. I miss out again but it is probably that she is a better dancer than me and is much better looking. Now Winston you put your right leg in and your right leg out and shake it all about.


He has been to Ibiza this week to watch the sun set at the sunset bar of Café del Mar. He seemed to enjoy the high-speed ferry but I think the slow return one where he had to go up into a kennel was not to his liking. So now, the famous Winston has met the famous resident DJ Bruno who has mixed so many records of chill music and made the sound of Spain so popular. I had to admit that with all the yachts anchoring just off the shore from the bar with all the people and the right sounds of music it was a happening to remember. It was like applause to the last sunset but we all know there will be another tomorrow. If you ever go there, it is well worth the visit.

I can now leave my bedroom door open because for Winston hierarchy is not a problem. He does come in for a while and lies on a rug but then goes back out again. He is always there in a morning resting his chin on the bed waiting for me to open my eyes so he can give me a big lick. He is so glad when I wake or return home to meet him he almost falls over shaking his body so much.

Winston had a problem that he would turn his back on people and sit on their feet. It may have some sexual connotations but with a castrated dog, I cannot see why. Anyway, to get him to face the right way, yet another friend of mine taught Winston to offer a paw for Doritos crisps. I said to wait until Winston offered a paw then to go ecstatic with him so he understood why he was getting the treat. Sure enough after he lifted his paw to get at the crisps, he got the biggest praise ever and soon realised why. After ten minuets, he would even give you two paws if it got him a crisp. After half a bag, he will now give you a paw lying down, in the stand or sitting. You would think I never ever train him or feed him. I will now have a go at teaching him to play dead when I shout bang as if I am pointing my fingers at him like firing a gun.

For Winston now it is "Give me food" and the rustle of paper and he is there drooling like Pavlov's dogs. It is not a list of what he does like as a short list of what he does not. He does not like tomatoes and celery except with mashed potatoes and gravy. Winston even goes over the road to pick blackberries directly from the bushes. Trevor was saying he had a dog that would do the same thing. He would die for spaghetti bolognaise. Sorry Winston, I am a lousy cook.

Winston is not showing any inclination for territorial aggression and I do not want him to become a guard dog. The Gas men, the pool cleaner and the family that clear the garden all have keys to the gate so they just walk in now and get on with what they are doing.

Two things happened this week that support Murphy's Law that what can go wrong would go wrong. I went out leaving Winston in the garden and access to the house. On my return, I found the gates had not closed correctly leaving a foot gap for Winston to be able to go on a walk about. Luckily, Winston was sound asleep in the house only coming out after I called him still looking sleepy. The other was he was being fed the meat off my cooked chicken leg when he grabbed it and ran off with it eating it as fast as he could. As they splinter and could perforate his gut, I grabbed the compressed air and fired it and he let it drop. I used that as I am still not too sure of Winston yet as not having him from a puppy and it was more important to retrieve the bone. This does show to those who have dogs that are aggressive to passers-by and they say they cannot get out just may have the same problem one day. As it is for those, who do not test that they can take food off their dog could find their dog does eat something they should not and end up at the vets for some surgery.

Let's be careful out there.


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